Table of contents
Application of the Practice
The Benefits of the Practice
Based on the results of the call for proposals announced by the Alliance of Central Asian Mountain Communities (AGOCA).
For centuries, the villagers of mountainous regions are trying to deal with the challenges that climate change throws at them. This happens due to irrational water distribution in the mountains of Tian Shan, Pamirs and Alai, which is characterized by reduction of water resources in one region because of its excess in another. The recent rapid melting of glaciers serves as an early indicator of climate change.
Therefore, the existing needs in adaptation and capacity building exceed the level of opportunities that local communities possess. This publication aims on setting up the question on effectiveness of the traditional adaptation practices in changing conditions and gives recommendations to governments, development agencies and all the stakeholders to invest technological changes in order to provide the access of local communities to financial resources for adaptation goals.
Get acquainted with best traditional practices on adaptation, which have been chosen within a joint initiative of AGOCA and Central Asian Mountain Hub (CAMH) on creation of the regional network of Central Asian villages on climate changes.
Alliance of Central Asian Mountain Communities
Traditional practice №1: “Murab”.
Application area: Kyrgyzstan, Batken oblast, Leylek region, Korgon village.
Murab – form tajik word “mirob”, “mir” – owner, “ob” – water.
In the countries of Central Asia the name varies depending on the source language: in Kyrgyzstan – murab, kok bashi; in Kazakhstan – mirab; in Tajikistan – mirob; in Turkmenistan – murap; in Uzbekistan – mirab.
One of the first references to murab date back to the beginning of 18th century, in historical facts about Central Asia. During the dry season due to the shortage of water, clashes occurred between the water users of neighboring villages, which made the leaders to establish a post of the water distributor – murab. Insistence and fairness in distributing of water resources were the main qualities when selecting the murab because they took part in managing irrigation issues that were meaningful for social-economic development of the region.
Goals and Objectives of the Practice:
The practice is focuses on water saving not only during water shortage, but at its excess as well. In villages that are located on lowlands, watering starts by sundown because of the high daytime temperature and evaporation. In mountain villages of Central Asia irrigation usually begins at early morning until 11 am, then from 5 pm until complete darkness, which leads to significant reduction of water consumption.
Such practice is not used in Korgon village because of the hilly ground. The upper part of the village is located on the upland, which is divided into left and right parts by Chorboghsai (a dried-up riverbed). Mixing of snow-melting and underground waters forms an irrigation channel that branches out into two ponds (see picture).
The scheme of the alternate watering for upper part of Korgon village.
Functional Responsibilities of Murab:
Payements for Murab’s Work:
Murab is elected for the period of the irrigation season, which lasts from October to April. The payment amount is set out during the traditional village meetings. Each household pays the fixed price for watering 1 square meter of land:
For example in Kyrgyzstan in 2016 the price for 1 square meter was:
In Tajikistan in 2016:
In Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region due to small plots of land, the post of murab ifs functioning in one Water Users Association only – “Ob Umed”, which includes 9 villages of Porshinev region. Murab id heading the committee that involves 9 mirjus, each of whom is responsible for his own village. Each mirju gets payment in amount of 600 somoni (65-68 USD) per month, which is payed from the Christensen Fund since 2009.
Traditional practice №2: “Installation of sepoya construction”.
Sepoya – from tajik word, “se” – three, “poya” – leg, stalk; i.e. the tripod. In Kytgyzstan – “togon”, in Kazakhstan – “togan”; in Tajikistan – “sepoya”; Uzbekistan – “sipoya”.
Sepoya is a special construction consisting of logs tied up in a certain manner, which prevents the shore from the river waters.
In the middle ages, people were already adapted enough to live near the river. They erected coastal dams and built dams of low technical level, which still preserved agricultural fields and housings from the wayward river.
In the XIII century Ibn Battuta, the Arab traveler and merchant, in his notes mentioned the way to Khorezm through the terrain, Sibaya, which got its name from the numerous constructions (sepoya), placed on the shores of the Amu Darya .
Description of the sepoya construction:
Three logs of the same thickness with a length of 2.5-3 meters and a diameter of 15-20 cm are needed. The logs are fastened on top of the twigs of trees (mostly willow) that grow along the river coast. The ends of logs are buried in the soil of the river channel. The bottom of the structure is strengthened by the wicker net made from rods, which is filling with coastal stones, twigs and moss. Over time, the net is clogged with slit, which contribute to a stronger consolidation of the construction. It is important to note that sepoya is set up at an angle of 45° regarding the downstream. It is necessary that the water flow in the river hits the sharp corner of the sepoya wall, and then reflects back into the riverbed, thereby preventing erosion and destruction of the shore.
Sepoya Setting Time:
Sepoya installation season occurs at the end of March, before the spring-summer flood (melting time of snow and glacier waters).
The Functions of Sepoya Construction:
Benefits of the Technology:
To date, the traditional centuries-old method of construction has not undergone much changes, only some innovations have been noted:
Replacement of the wicker net by metallic
Sepoya construction along the coast of Kozu-Baghlan river, Korgon village. Junly 2017.
Traditional practice №3: “Planting Floodplain Forests (Tugais)”.
Tolkoi – from Turkic “tukai” – reed beds. Floodplain forest in the river valleys of the desert and semi-desert zones of Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan – tokoi; in Kazakhstan – togai; in Tajikistan – tukaizor; in Uzbekistan – tukai.
Tugai is a special relict type of vegetation, which has preserved the former features of tertiary flora and has Central Asia as its center of origin.
Description of Kozu-Baghlan river:
The source of the river Kozu-Baghlan begins at the foot of the Turkestan range, feeding on melt and glacial waters. The source of the river Kozu-Baghlan begins at the foot of the Turkestan range, feeding on melt and glacial waters. During the spring and summer floods and mudflows, the river Kozu-Baghlan comes out of the banks, flooding areas of private households, which causes significant material damage to local residents.
Application of the Practice:
To strengthen and protect their land from destruction and erosion, people plant protective planting shrubs and trees. Each owner of the land decides himself what to plant, based on his own needs. Mostly it's currants, buckthorn trees, and tamarisk trees, which have a powerful root system. It strengthens the soil, protects it from erosion and reduces flood velocity.
Cuttings of shrubs with a length of 25-35 cm are planted in prepared holes along the river. The next is a row of willow and bushes that are located at a distance of 50-60 cm from each other. Then poplars, which are planted with seedlings and cuttings at a distance of 1-1.2 meters. The approximate distance between the rows of protective plantings ranges from 80 cm to 1.5 m.
Preference is given to the pyramidal poplar, or, as it is called in the people, "Mirza Terek" ("Mirza" Persian. – noble.)
The scheme of planting the floodplain trees.
Traditional practice №4: “Fertilizing the soil with manure”.
Manure - organic fertilizer from solid and liquid excrement of animals that is usually mixed with litter material (straw, peat). Contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium.
In Kyrgyzstan – uydun kygy; in Kazakhstan – siyrdyn kon; in Tajikistan – porui gov; in Turkmenistan – sygryn dersi.
Description of the Technology:
The technique of rational use of water with fertilizers, which was adopted several years ago and successfully implemented in the village of Korgon, was widespread in the Sughd region of Tajikistan. This practice is applicable to trees growing on sloping surfaces in areas with landforms and water supply difficulties. It is as follows:
In fall, the holes with depth of 0.5 m are prepared at the bases of the tree dugs. In the early winter, at the first frosts, the dug hole is filled with water (10 l), where the ice layer is formed later. The same procedure repeats on a daily basis within a week with making an aperture in an ice crust and filling it again with water. Thus, a fairly dense layer of ice is formed. Layered ice is filled with fresh cow manure (about 6 kg), which keeps a certain temperature, without missing heat and moisture. In the end of May, when the sun heats the earth, the ice begins to melt gradually, providing the roots of the tree with water and nutrients from decomposed manure, thereby saving it from drying.
The annual rise in price of coal and firewood, the presence of manure in each yard led to the joint, more economical use of all types of heating in the winter. Coal is kneaded with cow manure with adding water thereby making a more effective way of heating. Tapaks (cow manure) are given a round shape, dried, and placed in a specially designated room.
The benefits of the practice:
Mainly cow manure is used, which has a number of advantages:
Resident of Korgon village Sanginova H. Preparing for the winter (making tapaks). July 2017
Traditional practice №5: “Improvement of springs”.
Application area: Kyrgyzstan, Chuy oblast, Moscow region, Bala-Ayilchy village.
Spring – a natural out way of underground waters on the surface. In Kyrgyzstan – bulak, in Tajikistan – chashma, in Uzbekistan – bulok, chashma.
The origin of springs, fountains and many other water sources were unclear, so they were considered a gift from the gods. For centuries, in Central Asia as elsewhere water has been valued and cherished, as well as the earth was called mother.
Summer of 2014 turned out to be dry and very difficult to harvest. River Jardy Suu considerably shoaled and the water level has decreased significantly. This led to disagreements between neighboring villages on the basis of lack of irrigation water for the harvest. In order to avoid further conflicts, local aksakals called on residents to rationalize the distribution of water through peaceful regulation, according to the established irrigation schedule. Start time for each village – from 6 am to 8 PM every 3 days. Also the male population of villages was invited to conduct a cleanup along the gorge to clean the springs. Using household tools, such as shovels and rakes, people removed debris, cleaned the springs from fallen leaves and close to growing grass, and overlaid the area of springs with large stones.
Functions of the practice:
The villagers of Bala-Ayilchy during the cleanup of the springs. May 2017.
Traditional practice №6: “Breeding Orchards on the Rain-fed Land with Use of Mulching”.
Application area: Tajikistan, Khatlon oblast, Momandiyon village.
Rainfed irrigation, or bogara (from pers. "Bahor" - spring) - agriculture in arid areas with the use of early spring period moisture and precipitation during the vegetation period.
In Central Asia, there were two types of agriculture - rainfed and irrigated. Early information on the use of rain - fed agriculture is contained in The report of I. Gavrilov of 1912 - "Materials on the study of the economy of the settled Native population in the Turkestan region."
Description of the Practice:
In Momandiyon village due to the complex, uneven landscape and high soil permeability people usually plant fruit trees such as apple, pear, and plum on slope areas. The practice of planting trees was designed for watering with rainwater using the mulching method. Mulching – covering the soil surface with mulch to protect it and improve its properties. Some part of the grass mowed on the slope is mixed with sheep manure, which is placed on the surface of the plowed soil. A large part of the crop goes to feed animals. During the first 2-3 years after planting, young tree seedlings have a shallow root system. With regular loosening of the soil due to rainwater, moisture is retained longer in the soil.
In 2013, drought began in the village, which led to a shortage of feed for livestock. Previously used as pastures, slope areas were depleted and degraded (with the manifestation of gully erosion), which happened as a result of overgrazing.To solve this problem, the local residents had the idea to restore the sighting slope of the territory by breeding orchard. The mini-grant allocated for 2nd phase of the climate change project was spent on planting 1,400 fruit tree seedlings on 9 hectares of land.
The Benefits of the Practice:
The Functions of the Practice:
Gully erosion on the territory of Momandiyon village. May 2017.
Traditional practice №7: “Planting the Windbreaks”.
Application area: Tajikistan, Soghd oblast, Khojai Alo village.
Windbreaks – plantings that protect settlements, gardens and fields from the harmful effects of the wind.
Traditionally, in the cities and villages of Central Asia along the streets, local residents always planted poplars, weeping willows, acacia, which served as protection from sun and dust. Poplar was planted near houses, along the borders of gardens, fields or along roads. They served, first, as a building material for the construction of rural houses.
Khojai Alo village is located in the foothills area; due to its geographic location, it is exposed to seasonal winds from three sides. A great damage is brought by the winds to agriculture and horticulture. In addition to the wind, rain and hail destroy tomato crops, melons and other cultures. Because of the hail, the fruits of apples and pears go rotten losing their presentation.
In 2005, the villagers of Khojai Alo became participants of the project “Green Pearl”, which was launched by the organization of CAMP Kuhiston. 3000 seedlings have been acquired within the project, 2000 of whom were poplars and apricot varieties. They were planted around the village to create windproof strips in places prone to rock falls and winds. The distance between the seedlings is 3-5 meters between rows and 2.5-3 meters. Seedlings are watered once a month, from late March to August, with the help of water pumps. Every season people here collect 120-150 kilos of apricots, which are exported to Russia and Belarus in a dry state.
The Functions of the Windbreaks:
Orchard on one of the village slopes. July 2017.
Traditional practice №8: “Making silage in the traditional way”.
Application area: Tajikistan, GBAO, Buni village.
Silage (Spanish silos) - juicy forage for cattle, green parts of plants (tops, leaves, stems), prepared by fermentation.
Silage was known as pits dug in the ground, where the grain was preserved. The essence of the silage was that the pit dug in the ground is laid with fresh watery food, well trampled, closed to eliminate the influence of air boards, ground and pumped with a heavy cargo.
Pamir is a mountainous region where arable land is limited to a small area. Over the past 14-18 years, the withdrawal of arable land for fodder crops has decreased due to the expansion of food crops (wheat, potatoes, vegetables), which led to a shortage of feed and a fall in the productivity of farm animals.
Residents of the Pamir village of Buni due to lack of arable land cannot provide food for cattle in winter, so they are forced to send it to slaughter. As a result, there is a shortage of cow's milk. A traditional drink in the Pamirs is considered shirchoy (Shir-milk, choy-tea) that is served for breakfast. Due to lack of milk, people have to buy milk powder in the market at a high price (45 Taj. somoni / kg).
Filling the hole with green mass. September 2017
Functions of the practice:
Traditional practice №9: “Shore protection”.
Shore protection works are actions for protection of coast of reservoirs and watercourses from erosion.
The village of Buni used to be one of the most densely populated points in the Pamirs. In 1907, it was struck by a mudflow, which covered almost the entire village. The surviving villagers were forced to move to the Afghan side of Badakhshan. The gorge of the Buni-Dara River divides the village into two parts. The river originates at the foot of the glacier; its length is 7 km, 2 km of which are on the territory of the village with the adjacent 25 residential buildings with a population of 180 people, and then flows into the Panj River. By its type of nutrition, Buni-Dara River belongs to the glacial and snow water type. It is characterized by rapid flow with the presence of strong thresholds. The riverbed is littered with huge boulders and fragments of rocks. From mid-June to end of July, the melting of glaciers occur.
Buni-Dara River, top view.
Over the past 15-20 years, the inhabitants of Buni village annually carry out shore protection work in connection with climate change, which leads to the threat of mudslides. n the construction of the dam, mainly local river stones are used, which have a flat shape and are laid vertically from 1 meter high and above. Mostly works are carried out after the recession of water in September or October, by the method of khashar.
At nights, residents of the village are on duty for the case of a threat to people’s life. In 2015, thanks to the financial assistance of “Operation Mercy” Fund and the budget of the village of Buni, necessary materials for lighting were purchased for somoni ($520).
Functions of the Practice:
Benefits of the Practice:
The villagers of Buni constructing the dam on Buni-Dara River, 2016.
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Bekturova G. B., Romanova O. A., (2007): "Traditional knowledge in the field of land use in Central Asian countries", Almaty. p. 104.
Brief geographical encyclopedia (1960): 1st ed. Soviet encyclopedia, p. 564.
Encyclopedic dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron, (1898 ).
Gavrilov V., (2017): "Alloy. Guide to the mountain rivers of the former USSR and the West USA", Liters.
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